Wednesday, June 15, 2011

City Council Meeting of June 14

Another long Council meeting that started with a 6 pm executive session and ended around midnight. When the Council's confidence in the administration increases, I believe the meetings will be shorter and business will be conducted more efficiently. The most important positive action will be the appointment of a permanent city administrator who is competent and willing to work with the Council. Right now we have an acting city administrator who appears to fit that bill. Unfortunately he can only stay 90 days under the Plainfield ordinances.

Highlights of the evening:

* the road paving program - another of many discussions about the wisdom of our road paving selections. To some extent we continue on automatic pilot, guided by a scoring system that does not take into account the amount of traffic, safety issues, whether a road is a gateway to the city and other critical considerations. I used Watchung Ave to illustrate my point. The administration supports paving it from Hillside Ave to Woodland next. Compare that to the Leland to Woodland section which needs paving much more. Then check out Sterling, Cambridge and Oxford and other streets behind Cook School. You will see some of the worst streets in the city. Yet there has been no paving there at all. We have limited resources and need to make wiser decisions about the sequence of roads to be paved. I was asked to forward my recommendations to our Council Neighborhood Services committee. Once again, I will do so.

* Shotspotter - the vendor was back with a much better financing plan. And kudos to the administration for obtaining a $250,000 public saftey technology grant. Later we found out this is "almost" a done deal. Still a reason for hope. The Council had previously asked for expert input on the value of Shotspotter but that was not forthcoming at the meeting. I cannot vote for such an important initiative simply based on a vendors testimony. Once again I asked for the administration to reach out to the Prosecutors office, the State Police and other independent law enforcement entities to guide Plainfield's investment of public safety resources. Do we pay for Shotspotter (approximately $160,000/year after the grant runs out), more surveillance cameras, more police or more root cause interventions (recreation, youth career development, substance abuse treatment). Or a combination of the above.

* PMUA Citizens Taskforce - I urged Council members to appoint one representative each for action at next Mondays Council meeting.

* The Armory - the Mayor had the previous proposal brought back for discussion. Problem is we had that discussion months ago, the Council said "not worthy of action" and nothing of substance was added by the administration this time around. This is just stirring the pot. When a real proposal is made, then we should discuss it in public.

* Calendar year budgeting. Our CFO has prepared us to switch to a calendar year budget. That includes a "transition" 6 month budget from July to December. Thanks goes to Adrian Mapp, the original advocate for the change. There are advantages for Plainfield that I am sure he will cover in his blog.

We had many other items of business but too much to write about today. The Council business meeting is next Monday at 8 pm at the Municipal Court chamber.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Thank You to My Supporters

It was gratifying to me that voters selected me for another term on the Plainfield City Council. This campaign was a trying experience for me and my family. It was disheartening to see attacks on family and on my running mate Dee. These attacks made the support of friends all that more important.

There are too many people to thank in one blog post but I will try to thank each of them personally. I am proud to be associated with the many good people who got involved with this campaign. They did it because they love Plainfield and know that, with a more effective government, it can be a better place to live than it is today.

Even though we did not win every race on June 7, the fight for a better local Democratic Party, a better municipal government and a better Plainfield must and will go on.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It's the Voters Turn

Please be sure to vote today. Plainfield Democrats have a real choice in this primary election. Dee Dameron and I are running for City Council in column C. We have run a campaign on the issues facing Plainfield and we bring far more experience to the table than our opponents.

Most important in this election is the future leadership of Plainfield city hall. Column C has Democratic City Committee candidates who are committed to replacing Jerry Green as local party leader. They are committed to a more inclusive way of developing local talent and selecting candidates for Mayor and City Council.

It's time to take back Plainfield.

Vote Column C

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Partners in Nasty, Dishonest Campaigning

Tony Rucker and I promised each other that we would stick to the issues and not get personal.

When my supporter, Dan Damon, got out of line, I called him on it - publicly. I have been telling my campaign team since the beginning to stay cool and be positive.

Tony has not kept his part of the agreement. I never expected Jerry Green to run a clean campaign but Tony has an opportunity to distance himself from Jerry's ugly behavior. Will he take responsibility for his supporters behavior? Four years ago, Tony's campaign hired Park Hotel residents to picket the Evergreen School polling place on election day with signs claiming I was trying to put them on the streets. I asked the Park Hotel residents if they knew who I was and they stated that they had no idea who I was. When I confronted Tony, he said he knew nothing about this exploitive stunt.

Now we see a dirty mailing piece from the column A/Jerry Green team getting personal with my family and my running mate. Let's look at what the Green/Rucker/Greaves team are saying.

Greaves opponent is Dee Dameron, my running mate. Dee came back to Plainfield to help her mother. Dee is a fine person who has done nothing except make positive contributions to our community through her work with a non profit organization, her volunteer work on the Citizens Budget Advisory Committee and her steadfast advocacy for residents at City Council meetings.

My daughter was in a summer intern program the PMUA ran for dozens of students. She was part-time during the summer and did real work.Her internship took place before I was ever elected to the City Council. Are my opponents saying that Plainfield students do not deserve opportunities to learn and work in Plainfield?

This statement is not taken personally but is an example of the many distortions put out by Jerry Green during election season. The economic development study referred to was done by Rutgers University at no cost to Plainfield. And there have been no contracts awarded to any vendors for this initiative. This distortion only serves to divert attention from the many contracts awarded that benefit Jerry Green.

This campaign mailer is distateful, unethical and untrue. I make no comment on Jerry Green's character. There is still a brief opportunity, however, for Tony Rucker and Vera Greaves to show some character.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Regarding Campaign Silly Season, 2011

Dan Damon's blog comparing Tony Rucker to Nazis was uncalled for and in poor taste. It also doesn't help us focus on issues to use the word "thief" to describe Tony. Putting a question mark after the word doesn't make it any better.

I made a promise that if any of my supporters stepped over the line, I would speak out on it. Using false assertions and personal attacks only diverts us from an important discussion on Plainfield's real issues and problems. Luckily for Tony, nobody takes Dan's "Nazi" comment seriously. Any damage done is to me, by association.

On the other side, I hope Tony will publicly apologize for untrue and misleading statements he has made about me taking money from the PMUA. Tony's people doctored up a campaign fund report and blurred it so it is unreadable and are claiming this is proof I took the PMUA's money. I state for the record that I have never nor never will take money from the PMUA. The only flow of funds between the PMUA and me is not in my direction. But don't take my word for it, dear reader. Google New Jersey ELEC (stands for Election Law Enforcement Commission) and do a candidate report search using my name. You will see every report I have filed since 1999.

And Tony, your allegation I took money from a shell organization is completely false and misleading. Don't you know that you are sharing a campaign headquarters and phone bank with Assemblyman Green (and therefore getting contributions from him). He is connected to the most substantial flow of pay to play campaign contributions in New Jersey, funneled through various campaign accounts and political action committees. You are a minor beneficiary of this, just as every Plainfield Democratic candidate before you. I study the ELEC reports and I believe that, over the years, there are only a few local candidates who can proudly say that most of their contributions come from sources other than pay to play. Ironically, you and I are in that small group ( I am giving you the benefit of the doubt because I can't find your ELEC reports).

I also expect Tony to speak out on the nasty and false attacks that his campaign people are making about my record. We did agree at the beginning of the campaign to stick to the issues. Prove that you have command of the issues and some real solutions. That's the way to win votes.

Tony - this is a moment of truth. Are you going to do the honorable thing and rise above the ugliness and irrelevance that sometimes mars Plainfield political campaigns?

Park Ave/East Ninth St Improvements

It's been a four year wait but work has finally begun to improve this intersection. Bernice Paglia's blog post in February 2007 gives the background on the project. I want to reinforce that credit is due to two Plainfield residents, Maria Pellum and Barbara Kerr. When they first heard about the safety enhancements planned for the intersection, they saw an opportunity. "Why not beautify the city at the same time". They drafted a plan to add attractive lighting, seating and landscaping on the peninsula.

I helped them get an audience with the county engineers and after some negotiating, an excellent plan was conceived. When the county agreed to some of the new features but not all, a big assist came from April Stefel from the Plainfield Planning Department. She advocated successfully that the city contribute to the enhancements.

The rest is covered by Bernice.